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Sewing Machine Problems: How to Fix Them (2024)

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sewing machine problems fixingFrustration can quickly set in when sewing machine problems arise. Whether you’re a seasoned seamstress or just starting out, it’s important to understand the basics of how to fix common issues with your machine.

Key Takeaways

  • Proper thread tension adjustment is crucial for resolving thread-related issues such as thread bunching and breaking.
  • Regular maintenance, including cleaning and oiling the machine, can prevent sewing machine seizing up and ensure smooth operation.
  • Choosing the correct needle type and size, as well as proper needle installation, can help avoid bent or broken needles and skipping stitches.
  • Adjusting feed dog settings, presser foot pressure, and using appropriate techniques can resolve fabric feeding issues and prevent wavy seams in stretch fabrics.

Thread Bunching Up Under Your Fabric

Thread Bunching Up Under Your Fabric
You’ll want to check that the top thread and bobbin match in weight when thread bunches under the fabric.

Check your machine’s manual for how to adjust the top tension knob and test on scraps until the stitching looks balanced.

Make sure your presser foot is down before sewing and that the threads follow the correct paths. If it keeps bunching, inspect the bobbin area for lint buildup which can impede smooth thread flow.

Don’t forget occasional machine maintenance like oiling helps minimize pesky issues like thread nests under the fabric.

Bent or Broken Needles

Bent or Broken Needles
Over 35% of needles break or bend during regular sewing machine use, so always keep spares on hand to swap in when your needle gets damaged.

When a needle breaks or bends, stop sewing immediately. Turn off the machine. Remove the broken needle carefully. Replace it with a new same-size needle. Reset and re-thread the machine before resuming sewing.

Bent and damaged needles cause skipped stitches, snagged threads, and fabric damage. Use quality needles, change them often, and avoid hitting pins. Choose the right needle type for your fabric too – knits need ballpoints, wovens need sharps.

With proper needle selection and handling, you’ll prevent frustrating needle issues during your sewing projects.

Fabric Not Feeding

Fabric Not Feeding
When fabric is not feeding properly, first check that the feed dogs are raised. There is often a lever to lower feed dogs for free-motion sewing; make sure this is set to the up position.

Next, examine the presser foot pressure and increase it if needed so the feed dogs grip fabric correctly. You can also try supporting or stabilizing stretchy or slippery fabrics as you sew to prevent them from pulling away from the feed dogs.

Using an appropriate needle for your fabric type helps too. Ballpoint needles grab knits, whereas sharps easily pierce woven fabrics.

Finally, if adjusting settings doesn’t fix inconsistent feeding, your feed dogs may be worn. On older machines, replace them, but simply cleaning lint and threads around the dogs on newer machines often solves feed problems.

  • Check feed dog lever is raised, not lowered for free motion
  • Increase presser foot pressure if needed
  • Support stretch or slippery fabrics when sewing
  • Choose the correct needle type – ballpoint for knits, sharp for wovens
  • Replace worn feed dogs on old machines
  • Clean lint/threads from feed dogs on newer machines

Thread Keeps Breaking

Thread Keeps Breaking
As the thread perpetually snaps, this vexing conundrum of your treasured companion demands gentle caresses and soothing whispers.

Here are 5 troubleshooting techniques to try when the thread keeps breaking:

  1. Inspect thread quality and match the top thread weight with the bobbin thread.
  2. Check the needle type – is it suitable for your fabric? Change to a new needle.
  3. Try high-quality thread designed for your sewing machine.
  4. Adjust the top tension following your manual’s guidelines.
  5. Examine bobbin threading and placement within the bobbin case.

With patience and a methodical approach, you can unravel this tangled thread tragedy through proper threading, tension adjustment, and quality materials.

Your treasured sewing companion awaits liberation from this bothersome bind. Persevere, and you will soon be creating beauty once more.

Machine is Skipping Stitches

Machine is Skipping Stitches
You’ll wanna check your needle’s set right, matches the fabric, and the thread’s gettin’ around it before assuming it’s a timing thing.

When your machine’s skippin’ stitches, check these three things:

  1. The needle’s pushed all the way up and locked in tight. A loose needle will cause skipped stitches.
  2. You’ve got the right needle for the fabric – knits need ballpoints, wovens need sharps.
  3. The thread’s loopin’ properly around the needle and has enough slack on top. No slack means no stitches.

If those check out but you’ve still got skipped stitches, your machine’s timing could be off. That usually requires an expert’s adjustment. But first, eliminate any user errors – improper needle, no slack, loose installation.

Good stitch quality starts with the basics.

Bobbin Tension Not Consistent

Bobbin Tension Not Consistent
Like all components of your sewing machine, your bobbin needs occasional care and maintenance. Plastic bobbins can wear over time, resulting in inconsistent tension on the bottom thread, which causes uneven sewing and stitching errors.

Replacing a worn plastic bobbin with a metal one provides more durability and consistent performance. Check your bobbin case for scratches and debris that could catch the thread. Clean out lint with a soft brush.

Remember to rethread completely after each bobbin change. Proper threading and quality components like metal bobbins go a long way toward solving tension problems and getting back to trouble-free sewing.

Seams in Stretch Fabrics Coming Out Wavy

Seams in Stretch Fabrics Coming Out Wavy
Undergird stretch fabrics to prevent distorting seams. To avoid wavy seams in knits and spandex, first reinforce and stabilize the fabric as you sew. Use an embroidery stabilizer under the fabric or tissue paper between fabric layers.

Allow extra fabric so it moves freely under the presser foot without pulling or stretching. Consider using a walking foot or Teflon foot to feed the layers evenly. Lengthen the stitch a bit since elastic fabrics prefer longer stitches over tight ones.

Check that thread tension is balanced and the take-up lever is threaded properly. Sew more slowly and don’t force the layers through; let the feed dogs do their work.

Sewing Machine Seizes Up or Won’t Sew

Sewing Machine Seizes Up or Won
Seams in stretch fabrics coming out wavy can be frustrating. However, another common issue is when your sewing machine suddenly seizes up or won’t sew at all.

Start by checking for jammed threads in the bobbin area or under the throat plate. Carefully remove any tangled threads. Try gently turning the handwheel or presser foot lifter to see if the jam is freed up.

Follow your manual’s directions for cleaning the feed dogs, bobbin case, and inner workings.

Persistent skipping stitches or freezing up indicates a deeper problem. Seek professional sewing machine repair rather than forcing the machine.

With some troubleshooting, you’ll be stitching again in no time.

Needle Comes Unthreaded Before Sewing

Needle Comes Unthreaded Before Sewing
You pull the wool over its eyes if you thread the needle without it at the highest point.

Before threading, hand crank to raise the take-up lever and needle bar to their highest points.

Following your manual, draw thread from spool through the take-up lever down through correct thread guides.

If the needle isn’t fully raised, you may get false threading. Anytime threads loosen or skip stitches, stop and re-thread carefully with the needle up.

Master basic threading before attempting trickier techniques like twin needles or wing needles. Proper needle installation and positioning prevents frustrating unthreading and skipped stitches.

Fabric or Threads Are Bunching at the Start or Ends of Seams

Fabric or Threads Are Bunching at the Start or Ends of Seams
To avoid bunchin’ at the start or ends, sew extra before backstitchin’. Then backstitch away from the edge.

When startin’ a seam, sew a few stitches off the fabric edge. Then backstitch onto the fabric.

Likewise, sew past the fabric end before backstitchin’ off. Keepin’ thread tension balanced helps too.

Handlin’ fabric properly when sewin’ prevents distortion that leads to bunchin’. Don’t tug, stretch, or force fabric under the needle.

Take it slow and steady for smooth seams without bunchin’. And you’ll get professional-lookin’ results.

With practice adjustin’ tension, thread symmetry, backstitch technique, and fabric handlin’, you’ll master preventin’ those frustrating thread bun’ches.


The sewing machine is a complex machine, and troubleshooting it can be daunting. However, with a little knowledge and understanding of its intricacies, many of the common problems can be solved with ease.

From thread bunching up under the fabric to bent needles, fabric not feeding, and thread breaking, there are a variety of solutions to common sewing machine problems. With the right care and maintenance, coupled with an understanding of the right needle, fabric, and thread type, anyone can be a master of their sewing machine.

With these tips, you can take the first steps towards becoming a sewing machine hero!

Avatar for Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a site dedicated to those passionate about crafting. With years of experience and research under his belt, he sought to create a platform where he could share his knowledge and skills with others who shared his interests.